G-Body Survivor: 1987 Oldsmobile 442

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The GM G-body is a polarizing vehicle; either you love it or you hate it! While these cars aren’t for everyone, those who appreciate them simply can’t get enough of them. Revived in 1985, the 442 name carried on until 1987 and was defined as the car’s 4-speed automatic transmission, 4-barrel carburetor, and dual exhaust. This 442 was a two-owner barn find, and the two owner’s were father and son. It doesn’t sound like the current owner is either of those people, but the seller states that they have only put 10 miles on the car since they’ve owned it. With 43,000 original miles but potential mechanical problems looming in the future, this car will likely fetch a price that is reasonable both to buyer and seller. Find it here on eBay in Indiana with bidding at $1,680 and reserve not met as I write this. 

With such low mileage, it is no wonder the wonderfully ’80s interior of this car is in such nice condition. G-bodies have a somewhat recognizable interior, symbolic of 1980s styling. Again, this is a polarizing vehicle as some hate this styling and others love it! I’ll admit, I love it! The interior of this 442 is in near-mint condition and if nothing else, this will sell the car. With potentially minor work, someone will have a really nice future-collectable in their hands.

Under the hood is a 4-barrel equipped Oldsmobile 307 V8. Hooked up to a 200R4 automatic transmission, this 442 shares little resemblance to the original. Nonetheless, this car can still provide plenty of fun! Unfortunately, according to the seller the engine is making a “noise” and the seller isn’t sure what it is. From the ad, “I do not know what it is so don’t ask it could be a lifter it could be a piston I do not know.” While this is concerning, for the right price this could still be a worthwhile investment.

With only 4,208 442s built in 1987, this car is something of a rarity. Though seemingly unexciting today, in the future there is a distinct possibility that these cars will be collector cars of tomorrow. Although this car runs, drives, and stops, it will need some work to be a reliable car. Though it could be a simple engine issue, it could also be much worse. The new owner will be the one who gets the adventure of figuring it out! Would you take it on as-is? Or would you want to investigate the mysterious engine noise first?

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  1. Alan

    I do have same G body 1979 Hurst/Olds in white/gold combo with only 7K original miles. Beautiful Olds with approx 2500 only made! I paid 22K for it

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    • Andrew

      Alan I am impressed with your collection , I am a GM fan perhaps you could post pictures of the jewels. thank you

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    • charlie jackson

      alan are u from Jersey???

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  2. whmracer99

    Always thought one of these with an LS motor or a transplanted GNX unit with stock exterior would be a killer sleeper. $4300 now but still not at reserve.

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    • Steve

      I agree, that would be the perfect 442.

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  3. Vin in NJ

    I love the G bodies. Had an ’81 and ’85 Grand Prix. I seriously considered buying a brand new ’87 442 back in 1987, but a Firebird Formula lured me away. Looking at these pics makes me wish I’d bought the 442.

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    • Roger

      I also had a couple of those,a ’78 Cutlass Supreme with the Buick V6 and a ’87 Grand Prix with the 305 Chevy with the automatic with overdrive,had the bucket seats and console,both great cars and ran well with pretty good gas mileage for such big cars.

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  4. Gunner

    I like certain G-bodied cars of this era, but I am not a fan of the 200R4 transmissions (and I speak from experience).

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  5. Rustytech RustytechMember

    I too like the G-body cars, my only complaint with them was that most of them were underpowered V6’s and those had issues with rob bearings. The V8’s were better, but still underpowered. I like this car but at over $4200 with an unknown engine issue I think this is already overpriced.

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  6. Mark S

    One of my favorite body styles but I never did buy one. I worked for many years as an auto mechanic and I can tell that these GM cars were a pleasure to work on. The likelihood of the engine needing major work is low this era of gm were known for their soft cam shafts ( I replaced many ) and they would make a lot of abnormal noises. Once replaced with an aftermarket cam and lifters the problem would be gone. The 1988 model were the first year of the throttle body injection which replaced the feed back carbs that were on this model year. The feed back carbs had solinoid controlled metering rods designed to cycle up to 100 times per minute based on input to the computer from the oxigen sensor. Many of these feed back carbs were replaced by older design carbs because they were problematic typically causing flooding. The other thing that was not very good were those 200R transmissions many were scrapped in faver of turbo 350’s and 700 R’s I kind of miss seeing these around they were nice cars for there time, not to many of them left these were scrapped in great numbers when they hit about 10 years old. Nice find.

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  7. fordfan

    My 78 malibu classic 200 ci v6 made a lot of valve train noise starting at about 40.000 miles . would make a lot less noise with a fresh oil change.did they forget the formula to make cam shafts?

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    • Mark S

      Cam shafts are mostly made of cast iron, at least back then they were, which is fairly soft. They would then go through a process called carburizing which causes carbine to imbed itself in the surface of the casting using heat, this was done to the casting after machining and grinding were completed. This process would only surface harden the castings All l know is that there was something that wasn’t done correctly and it would not be unusual to see a camshaft with lobes worn to the base circle. After this era of gm engine, gm went to roller lifters / cams rather than relying on a crowned cam lobe which would rotate the lifter in its bore to prevent wearing out the bottom of the lifter and wearing off the cam lobe. These cams were easy to find the customer car would come in running rough and when you stepped on the gas you’d get a loud popping out through the Venturi of the Carberator really common in 305 engines but also in other gm engines.

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  8. Rock OnMember

    Noise in the 307 should not be a problem. You will probably want to swap it out for a built 403 anyway. Same exterior dimensions and all of the accessories will bolt right up.

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  9. c rawn

    these are nice cars, this one looks like it’s worth saving.

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  10. cudaman

    “Noise in the engine”………he’s a dealer, he knows exactly what it is and it’s likely the worst scenario…….buyer beware!!!!!!

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  11. ccrvtt

    In the context of the late ’80’s these were nice cars. Having come of age during the ’60’s & ’70’s cars built from 1973 on were largely disappointing with very few exceptions. This body shell would make a great starting point to produce a Real 442 – LS swap, 5 or 6-speed trans, 4-wheel discs, etc. Still it’s a nice car. Typical Oldsmobile styling – more refined looking than a Chevy and not as flamboyant as a Pontiac.

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    lux o barge disguised as a 442. Dog but nice riding car.

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  13. jw454

    Assume the engine is toast. Also, you need to add in the cost of two southern doors. these are most likely gone based on the small amount of rust shown in the picture. On these, a little on the outside means a lot on the inside.

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  14. Mike Kay

    My son had a ’86 442. Just beautiful. Only problem was it was too nice, car was stolen twice in 2 years ( was gone for 5 months before recovery the 2nd time). After that he sold it and now has memories.

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  15. PB

    The 200-4r comments are funny, they are often more desirable than the other options mentioned and how show how far opinions have come since the 80’s and 90’s. People put them in everything and for good reason.

    And I never heard that the g-body platform is love or hate. It’s a pretty non offensive body styling, not everyone’s thing but rarely hear real negative feedback.

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